If you had a magical power, what would it be?
If you asked me when I was younger, when I was tangled up in a love that swallowed me up like quicksand, I would’ve answered differently. When I was wrapped up in a boy who was never good for me, a boy who kept his heart buried under layers of cement, a boy who let me in only far enough to kick me back out, a boy whose cold, hard love left me frigid, and broken, and alone, I would’ve asked for the ability to read minds. If it were a different time, I would wish to have the ability to jump off a diving board head-first into his head and crawl into his thoughts and light them up in the night sky. If you asked me on the days when I misjudge just how many times I can hit the snooze button, on the days I’m running late for work and hit every single red light, or in the beginning of May when summer starts making her sweet way onto the Jersey shore and I’m stuck in unforgiving traffic miles away from where I’m supposed to be, I would ask for the ability to teleport. I would ask to close my eyes, choose my destination, and be there immediately. But today, I want neither. Today, I’m untangled from that messy love and today, I wasn’t running late; today, I wasn’t stuck in traffic.
Today, I would ask for the ability to cut myself into pieces and be present, truly present, in every part of my life. I wish I could be here, a writer’s cliche, in the corner of my local Starbucks looking out at the busy highway and cars passing by, getting my words out. I wish I could be at the library, pounding out a paper I waited a little too long to get started on. I wish I could be at school, at work, at the gym, catching up with my friends; I wish I could do it all, and do it well.
But, I’m no magician. I’m only one girl, wearing eight different hats, and somehow, that has to be enough.
Shonda Rhimes said something in her commencement speech to the Dartmouth College graduating class of 2014 that’s been rattling my bones for months. She said, “Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I am failing in another area of my life. If I am killing it on a Scandal script for work, I am probably missing bath and story time at home. If I am at home sewing my kids’ Halloween costumes, I’m probably blowing off a rewrite I was supposed to turn in. If I am accepting a prestigious award, I am missing my baby’s first swim lesson. If I am at my daughter’s debut in her school musical, I am missing Sandra Oh’s last scene ever being filmed at Grey’s Anatomy. If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other. That is the trade-off.”
I’ve spent the last nine months struggling with balance. I’ve struggled with putting all of my energy into certain parts of my life, but not in others. I’ve struggled with the realization that even though I made time for everything, I couldn’t make time to do everything well. The perfectionist in me was pissed off. The perfectionist in me shut down. The perfectionist in me has always prided on the fact that I could juggle so much – that all eight of my legs were always working. When I realized that I couldn’t put my heart and soul into all of my responsibilities, I walked away from the weight that I couldn’t carry. I walked away from responsibilities that I thought I had to cut – little things that made the weight too difficult to juggle. I made room for the heavier things. I made more room for work and for school, but left little room for myself.
What I’ve found in the absence of the extra weight was how much Shonda’s words resonated with me. Just like Shonda, if I am succeeding at one aspect of my life, I am failing at another. But, in spite of that, that’s why I’m back. I’m still learning how to be a student, an employee, an intern, a daughter, a friend – and do it all well, but I’m learning also that it’s okay to fall short sometimes. It’s okay to fail, so long as you try. I’m learning how to make time for myself, for the things that fill my heart – for the things that make me whole. And I’m learning how to do the best I can at everything without driving myself crazy when it doesn’t turn out perfect. I’m learning to relinquish the perfectionist in me and accept that I can only do so much – to accept that, like John Green said in The Fault in Our Stars, “the world is not a wish-granting factory.” I’m learning that I don’t get wishes. I don’t get magical powers. I am one person, wearing eight different hats, and I will make sure that’s enough. I will make sure that I am enough.
So, with that, I’m back. Thanks for stickin’ around.
“Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management. Balance means making choices, and enjoying those choices.” -Anonymous
The title of this post comes from lyrics of the song ‘Take it Easy‘ by The Eagles